I have such mixed feelings about this.
I really found myself engrossed in the Warcraft world. There was a lot that went on in these novels that I never knew about. The action was fast, and there was a lot of it, and the characters were engaging. I think that this was a well-done trilogy and I'm very glad to have read it. I really do think that people who have never played the video game will still enjoy this. This book cemented that for me.
I only take issue with one aspect: Illidan's betrayal.
I knew, of course, that he would betray the Night Elves because I've been playing WoW for quite some time. However, the way it was portrayed in these novels didn't make me feel like he betrayed anyone. He went to the Legion to try and undermine them. He tried to re-create the Well for his people's sake. He helped Malfurion use the Demon Soul to bring about The Sundering
(which no one gave him credit for). The entire time there is this detachment from the reader to the character. We are constantly reminded that he is "Malfurion's brother" or "the twin". It's like he never had a chance of being redeemable, but all of his actions actually were redeemable. They only worked against him because Blizzard wanted to make Illidan the bad guy. It's unfortunate because a lot could have been done with him. He was easily the most interesting character and I think they could have made his betrayal slice through the heart of the reader. Instead we're left with this ambiguous feeling about him -- yes, he's obviously gone crazy, but does that really deserve a ten thousand year imprisonment?
There's also the fact that whenever Rhonin saw Illidan's spells, he immediately would think they were terrible and full of carnage and during the end, they were. But his beginning spells were no worse than those of anyone else's! After talking about this last night, I realized that this was a classic problem of: show, don't tell
. This is perhaps the easiest flaw to have in a book. The reader is constantly told about how Illidan is oh-so-evil but he never does anything to truly cement this. Is he a murderer?
Yes. And for that he should be punished. Malfurion even thought his brother to be correct which is why he imprisons him.
I feel like Illidan is more a victim of plot and circumstance than a true villain and that is unfortunate because it makes me not see Malfurion to be the hero that he is supposed to be. I think that it's partly Knaak and the writing techniques he used, but I also think that a lot of the fault lies with Blizzard.
Here's my thing: If you tried to imprison me for ten thousand years to use just in case I might be right... well, guess what. When you release me after ten thousand years to help you, I am not going to help you. I am probably just going to kill you for being an asshole. Illidan's insanity when released makes so much more sense to me now.
I do not condone his behavior and I do think he eventually turns into a villain, but I understand why. He was unfairly judged.
Regardless, I still had a lot of fun with this series and would recommend it for anyone in the mood for some creepy demon descriptions, blood and gore action and a lot of creative scenes and mythical creatures.